Salvador Dali providing direction to Playboy photographer Pompeo Posar and a Playboy Bunny in Cadaqués, Spain in 1973.
“The meaning of my work is the motivation that is of the purest – money. What I did for Playboy is very good and your payment is equal to the task.”
—Salvador Dali on his collaboration with Playboy in 1973
For his photo shoot for Playboy magazine, Salvador Dali, long-time Playboy photographer Pompeo Posar, a gaggle of Playboy Bunnies and a giant egg headed to Cadaqués, a seaside town in Spain near where Dali lived in Port Lligat, a small village on a bay next to the town. The event would turn the sleepy village upside down during the shoot and local Dali-devotees would wait outside his home so that they could pay homage to the Surrealist by chanting “Master! Master!” whenever he left the residence to go to work under the blistering hot Spanish sun.
Working closely with Posar, Dali created a few sketches of his vision for the shoot which ultimately ended up including a giant egg, an equally fake large snake, various collage images that ran the gamut from a Coca-Cola bottle to Renaissance-style architecture, and of course, Playboy Bunnies cavorting around wearing little to nothing because this is Playboy magazine we’re talking about. Dali—who was 69 at the time—ran the shoot like the master that he was and residents of Cadaqués would watch the artist’s every move from the hills surrounding the location.
The final photos live up to Dali’s provocative, boundary-pushing style, and are gorgeously bizarre to behold. I’ve included a few of Dali’s preliminary sketches that detail part of his artistic vision for the shoot and many others including the master at work, as well as the finished product that appeared in the December 1974 issue of Playboy.
Pretty much all of them are NSFW. But you hate your stupid desk job anyway, don’t you?
A portrait of David Bowie made out of junk by Bernard Pas.
French painter, photographer, and sculptor Bernard Pras has been creating pictures out of everyday objects such as toys, wood, clothing and whatever else he happened to come across for over two decades. Many of the finished products are remarkable portraits of some of the world’s most famous faces such as David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Bruce Lee and Jack Nicholson as “Jack Torrance” from The Shining.
Pras is very discerning when it comes to the selection process for his individual pieces—and it is that thought process that helps the the dexterous artist create a sense of life in his elaborate portraits and other works comprised of objects that he perhaps collected from Goodwill bargain bins filled with doll parts, bits of clothing and even food. I’ve included a nice selection of Pras’ portraits, one of which is quite NSFW which you can see at the very end of this post.
Jack Nicholson as his character “Jack Torrance” from ‘The Shining.’
Unless you’re a fan of Barbra Streisand movies, then the name Billy Rose probably won’t mean much. Billy Rose was a legendary Broadway impresario and songwriter—now best known for such show tunes as “Paper Moon” and “Me and My Shadow.” If you like la Streisand then you’ll know James Caan played Billy Rose to Barbra’s star comedian Fanny Brice in the hit movie Funny Lady. Billy Rose and Fanny Brice were for a time married. They were a celebrity couple like Brangelina or Beyonce and Jay Z.
That Billy Rose isn’t so well known today just goes to show how being a celebrity don’t mean shit in the long run. We might remember his songs, maybe even read about his stage shows, but we don’t care about the man. What is remembered are those people of exceptional talents who change everything.
Salvador Dali was such a talent.
Dali was talented and prolific. So prolific that he produced posters for the Communist Party the same decade he designed the window displays for Bonwit Teller in New York. Everything was open to the Dali treatment.
However, some possibly more green-eyed individuals thought Dali was only after one thing. His fellow Surrealist André Breton gave Dali the nickname “Avida Dollars.” The name was an anagram of Salvador Dali and was intended as a damning insult. The Surrealists thought Dali was only interested in money. Avida Dollars was a phonetic rendering of the French phrase “avide à dollars” which means “eager for dollars.”
It was Billy Rose who helped the Dali stage his “Dream of Venus” exhibit at the World’s Fair in 1939. This started an unlikely friendship between Dali and the showman known as the “Basement Belasco” and the “Bantam Barnum.”
Dali was so enamored with his new Broadway buddy he gave Billy a series of paintings titled “The Seven Lively Arts.” When these were later lost in a fire at Billy’s home, Dali replaced the work with a new painting called “Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 1956. That’s how tight these two were at one point.
Of course, Dali was shrewd enough to know giving paintings to a big impresario like Billy Rose would establish his name among the celebrity and monied social circuit and bring himeven more fame and success.
In 1948, Dali supplied a series of beautiful ink illustrations for Rose’s autobiography Wine, Women & Words. Rose was like a character out of a Damon Runyon story written by Raymond Chandler. Here’s how Rose opens his autobiography:
I was born the night President McKinley was shot, and a lot of fellows around Broadway will tell you they shot the wrong man.
The coming-out party took place on a kitchen table in a tenement on the lower East Side. When my mother first saw me, she prophesied, “Some day he’ll be President.” My father looked at me and said, “He’s all right, I guess, but what we really needed was an icebox.”
Yet this mix of showbiz wiseguy and Surrealist genius actually worked.
Each chapter in the book had its own illustration—with one (“Poor Eleanor Knows Them by Heart”) having two. Each focussing on some key moment or anecdote from Rose’s career. There was also quite a lot on his relationship with his then wife Eleanor Holm—the woman he left Fanny Brice for—who had been a star of his swimming extravaganza Aquacade at the World’s Fair of 1939.
A few weeks ago I blogged about these amazing and affordable Hieronymus Bosch figurines. As I was looking for images of the Bosch toys, I stumbled across affordable Salvador Dalí figurines as well. I decided to wait a little bit before blogging about them, but there they are now!
Sadly, there’s not as many as there were in the Bosch collection. I looked high and low, and these were all I could find. They’re really cool nevertheless.
I’ve posted a range of different figurines and where to purchase below each image if you’re interested.
That’s the “tagline” for Dante’s epic allegorical poem the Divine Comedy.
The Divine Comedy tells of the poet Dante “midway upon the journey” of his life when suddenly he finds himself lost “within a forest dark” having strayed from his “straightforward path.” It’s like the opening of some grim horror story or even a disturbing pulp detective tale—where the hero awakes lost and menaced in a dark and foreboding place.
It was another great poet T. S. Eliot who once wrote “Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them. There is no third.”
In terms of Europe, he was right—though some may now add Goethe.
Shakespeare with his poetry and plays changed the English language and offered an unrivaled insight into the human condition.
Dante certainly added to our language and literature and gave some insight into human understanding—but his greatest literary feat was creating our vision of Hell.
Hell with its gates and abandon all hope ye who enter here. Hell with its nine circles—its brutal, horrific punishments, fire and ice, mythical creatures and monstrous demons.
The Divine Comedy is an allegory about sin and redemption. Dante is led by yet another poet Virgil—chosen because he described Hell in his poem the Aeneid—through the Inferno (Hell) on towards Purgatory and Paradise.
Understandable therefore that Dante’s epic tale would appeal as a subject matter to an old superstitious Catholic like Salvador Dali. The fact that this poem had already been illustrated by William Blake and Gustave Dore only added to its attraction
In 1957, the Italian government approached Salvador Dali to produce a series of 101 watercolor illustrations intended to accompany a new edition of the Divine Comedy intended to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth in 1965. Dali set to work. But when the first of Dali’s paintings were exhibited at the Palazzo Pallavicini in Rome, a section of the Italian public were disgusted that a Spaniard had been hired to celebrate their country’s greatest poet rather than some Italian. The project was quickly dropped.
However, Dali seemed unperturbed. He finished the project.
In 1964, Dali approached his French publisher, Joseph Foret, who was then producing a volume of Dali’s illustrations to accompany a new edition of Don Quixote. Dali suggested the idea of publishing his illustrations in a new edition of Dante’s epic poem. Foret took a selection of Dali’s watercolors to the publishers Les Heures Claires—who were equally enthusiastic about the project.
Two engravers—Raymond Jacquet with his assistant, Mr. Taricco—were hired to hand carve the 3,500 wood blocks necessary to reproduce Dali’s watercolors. A limited edition of the book was published in Italian. Sets of Dali’s prints are still available to buy online for plenty of lucre.
Dali’s illustrations feature many of his trademark images—elongated limbs, melting faces, and disturbing unquiet. Though his paintings do not attempt to compete with the illustrations of Dore and Blake—Dali’s images do create a surreal interpretation of Hell and all its punishments. Below is the complete set of Dali’s illustrations for the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy—the Inferno—as recounts the poet’s journey from dark wood through the gates of the underworld onto the nine circles of Hell. The full poem can be read here.
I was among those, in Limbo, in suspense, and a lady called to me, she so beautiful, so blessed, that I begged her to command me.
In 1973, French publisher Felicie published a singular cookbook by Salvador Dalí. The volume was pure Dalí. First off, it was hardly a cookbook, it was closer to a visual mindfuck on the subject of fine dining that had little advice as to how the reader should prepare his or her repasts. It had visual flair, ribald humor, a contempt for “accepted” manners, no shortage of libido, and a heightened feeling for the absurd. The book was called Les Diners de Gala—Dalí‘s wife was named Gala, so the title means “Gala’s dinners” but I think there’s also a pun on the idea of a “gala dinner.” A companion volume, the comparatively little-known Wines of Gala was published in 1977.
Only a few hundred copies of the cookbook were ever printed—exact numbers are difficult to come by—but it’s been bouncing around eBay for years, almost always going for hundreds of dollars. We wrote about the book in 2014. Now, however, thanks to the venerable art publishing house Taschen, you’ll be able to own a copy for yourself, and not break your bank account any. Taschen is publishing Dalí: Les Diner de Gala on November 20, 2016, and pre-orders are available.
Here’s a look at the table of contents, which I’ll leave untranslated:
1. Les caprices pincés princiers (Exotic Dishes)
2. Les cannibalismes de l’automne (Eggs - Seafood)
3. Les suprêmes de malaises lilliputiens (Entrées)
4. Les entre-plats sodomisés (Meats)
5. Les spoutniks astiqués d’asticots statistiques (Snails - Frogs)
6. Les panaches panachés (Fish - Shellfish)
7. Les chairs monarchiques (Game - Poultry)
8. Les montres molles 1/2 sommeil (Pork)
9. L’atavisme désoxyribonucléique (Vegetables)
10. Les “je mange GALA” (Aphrodisiacs)
11. Les pios nonoches (Sweets - Desserts)
12. Les délices petits martyrs (Hors-d’oeuvres)
My French isn’t up to most of that, but, as an example of Dalí‘s humor, chapter 10, dedicated to “Aphrodisiacs,” means “I eat GALA,” so he’s got a reference to oral sex right in the table of contents.
In 2011, two noted Minnesota dance troupes, Ballet of the Dolls and Zorongo Flamenco, put on a staged piece in Minneapolis called “Dali’s Cookbook: A Gastronomical Inquisition” that was inspired by the cookbook.
More great images from this bizarre book after the jump…...
Salvador Dali loved the Marx Brothers. He loved their madcap, anarchic comedy. In particular Dali loved Harpo Marx—the blonde corkscrew-haired comic mime whose visual comedy—unlike the quick witty repartee of his brother Groucho—was universal and needed no translation. Dali described Harpo as one of America’s three great Surrealists—the other two being Walt Disney and Cecil B. DeMille.
The pair first met at a party in Paris in 1936. Harpo told Dali how much he liked his paintings. Dali told Harpo how much he loved his films—in particular Animal Crackers which he described as “the summit of the evolution of comic cinema.” Dali gushed over Harpo’s performance where he pulled fish and cutlery from his pocket and shot the hats of beautiful women—this was true Surrealism!
I met Harpo for the first time in his garden. He was naked, crowned with roses, and in the center of a veritable forest of harps (he was surrounded by at least five hundred harps). He was caressing, like a new Leda, a dazzling white swan, and feeding it a statue of the Venus de Milo made of cheese, which he grated against the strings of the nearest harp. An almost springlike breeze drew a curious murmur from the harp forest. In Harpo’s pupils glows the same spectral light to be observed in Picasso’s.
When Harpo returned to America, Dali sent him a harp wrapped in cellophane with barbed wire for strings and spoons, knives and forks glued all over its frame. In return Harpo sent Dali a photograph of himself playing the harp with bandaged fingers. He invited Dali to Hollywood saying he’d be more than happy to pose for the great artist—if he cared to smear paint all over him. Dali was delighted to take up the offer. In 1937, he arrived in Hollywood with his wife Gala. He visited Harpo and sketched him playing his barbed wire harp with a lobster on his head. Natch.
Dali’s sketch of Harpo playing the harp.
Dali brought Harpo a gift—a movie script he wanted the Marx Brothers to make. The script was called Giraffes on Horseback Salads or The Surrealist Woman. It was a series of unconnected scenes typed in blue ribbon over twenty-two pages with various notes written in ink. Dali had already made two infamous films with his friend the director Luis Buñuel—Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age d’Or. Now he wanted to cast Harpo and cinema’s “greatest Surrealist act” the Marx Brothers in a film that just might revolutionize Hollywood—or maybe not...
Read Dali’s script and see his sketches for ‘Giraffes on Horseback Salads,’ after the jump…
Salvador Dali’s ‘Giraffes on Horseback Salad’ (1937)
Most film directors have a list of movie projects they never manage to make. Some are started like Orson Welles’ Don Quixote but never finished—though posthumously released in a re-edited form. Others like Hitchcock’s R.R.R.R. never quite make it from idea to script to studio green light.
L.A. based artist and designer Fernando Reza has created a stupendous selection of film posters for movie projects by directors like Hitchcock, Welles, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and even Salvador Dali that were discussed, planned, and even partially filmed but never completed.
Take for example Salvador Dali who planned to make a movie with the Marx Brothers called Giraffes on Horseback Salad in 1937. Dali was friends with Harpo Marx and the pair decided to work together on a film project. Dali had already made two short films with Luis Bunuel (Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’or) and would later go on to collaborate with Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock designing dream sequences for Dumbo and Spellbound.
Dali and Marx concocted a story about an aristocrat played by Harpo falling in love with a woman whose face is never revealed. The great Surrealist intended to use the film to show:
...the continuous struggle between the imaginative life as depicted in the old myths and the practical and rational life of contemporary society.
The film was to include scenes with a “horde of burning giraffes wearing gas masks, and Harpo catching dwarves with a net.” A script was apparently written but the other Marx Brothers nixed the idea thinking the idea a stinker and the script not very funny.
Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Kaleidoscope’ aka ‘Frenzy’ (1964-67).
Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make a prequel to Shadow of Doubt with another “Merry Widow Murderer” luring women to their grisly deaths. As with Psycho, Hitchcock had devised three set pieces to focus on the three gruesome murders carried out by the deviant sex-fiend. The first murder was to take place by a waterfall; the second on board a disused warship; the third in an oil refinery against brightly colored oil drums.
Unlike Psycho or Shadow of Doubt there was no moral counterpoint to the “relentless sex and violence” shown onscreen. A script was written and test scenes shot. Among the actors considered for the lead role were Michael Caine, Robert Redford and David Hemmings. The film was basically a slasher movie a decade ahead of its time. Universal Studios vetoed the idea—thinking Hitchcock’s movie too amoral and too dark.
Always with his eye keenly trained to make a quick buck, Salvador Dali noted the sixties zeitgeist for all things astrological and produced a limited edition portfolio of 250 lithographs on woven paper depicting the signs of the zodiac. Though Dali claimed to be interested in science and its investigations into the atom—he was well-known to be superstitious to the point of paranoia. As a young man he kept a talisman to ward off evil spirits; he also had a phobia about showing his feet, which made buying new shoes difficult; plus he believed he was the “reincarnation” of his dead older brother—which was most probably caused by his having to wear his dead sibling’s clothes.
Dali claimed in an interview with Mike Wallace that the Spanish were a superstitious nation which explained his own personal superstitions. His one-time friend and film collaborator Luis Buñuel agreed with Dali about the Spanish, claiming in his autobiography My Last Breath that religious indoctrination had caused many Spaniards to live their lives under the terrible fear of retribution. It has been claimed that towards the end of Dali’s life he became even more superstitious—only agreeing to meet visitors in a darkened room or communicating with people through a closed door.
Dali would return to the zodiac as a money-making source in the late 1960s and again in the 1970s. These works are primarily simple, direct and illustrative—other than a Dalinian lobster replacing a crab for sign of Cancer—though there is little doubt over the skill and talent of the artist who produced them.
Model, painter, disco diva, TV personality and the absolute fiercest of the pioneering transsexuals (along with Candy Darling), Amanda Lear was born Alain Maurice Louis René Tap in Saigon, 1939. Or it could have been Paris. Or Hong Kong. The year might have been 1941, 1945 or as she now claims 1950. There is much competing information about her parents, none of it conclusive. In general, not much is known for sure about the early life of Amanda Lear and she would very much like to keep it that way. She claims to have been educated in Switzerland and she eventually made her way to Paris in 1959, taking the stage name “Peki d’Oslo,” performing as a stripper at the notorious drag bar, Le Carrousel.
Amanda Lear’s mid-60s model card.
The story goes that the gangly, yet exotic Eurasian beauty Peki had a nose job and sex change in Casablanca paid for by none other than the Surrealist master Salvador Dali, who frequented Le Carrousel, in 1963. Amanda, as she is now known, then makes her way to London to become a part of the swinging Chelsea set where she is rumored to have had a relationship with Rolling Stone Brian Jones. She models for Yves St. Laurent and Paco Rabanne and is a constant muse for the Divine Dali, but her career is held back by rumors that she was born a man or was a hermaphrodite.
‘For Your Pleasure’ cover
Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry saw Lear on the runway during an Ossie Clark fashion show and invited her to be the model for Roxy’s For Your Pleasure album cover, walking a black panther on a leash. They were briefly engaged and that image has become iconic. Lear also had a yearlong affair with David Bowie who serenaded her with “Sorrow” in his “1980 Floor Show” (broadcast on The Midnight Special in 1974). Bowie helped Lear launch her musical career and by the late 1970s she had become a bestselling disco singer and television personality in Europe with hits like “Follow Me,” “Queen of Chinatown” and “I Am a Photograph.”
The David Bailey photograph of Lear that appeared in the infamous 1971 Dali-edited issue of French Vogue
Amanda Lear’s autobiography, My Life With Dali came out in 1985 and it begins when she would have been approximately 24 or 25 years of age. Almost no mention whatsoever is made of her life before arriving in London in 1965. When Dali biographer Ian Gibson confronted her on camera about the gender of her birth in his The Fame and Shame of Salvador Dali TV documentary, Lear angrily—and not at all convincingly—stonewalled him. She has always vehemently denied that she was a transsexual despite it being a well-established fact. She even posed nude for Playboy and several other men’s magazines and often sunbathed naked on beaches to dispel the rumors. All this really proved was that she had a kickin’ bod, but if you ask me, I think it’s sad that she choses to keep up this pretense. She should be rightfully celebrated for her biggest accomplishment in life—ironically, being true to herself—but apparently Amanda Lear just doesn’t see it that way.
Amanda Lear vehemently denies having had a sex change on German television 1977.
Today Amanda Lear still looks amazing—she’s practically ageless no matter what her real biological age might be—and continues to perform all over Europe. She’s sold somewhere in the vicinity of fifteen million albums and 25 million singles. She also has a thriving career as a painter and an original painting of hers can sell for $10,000 or more. She’s done stage acting and was the voice of Edna ‘E’ Mode in the Italian-dubbed version of The Incredibles. Lear was a judge on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars.
The most famous short film ever made was inspired by dreams. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali had talked about making a film together for some time but could never agree on what the film should be about.
One day, Dali told Buñuel he had dreamt of ants swarming in his hands. Buñuel replied that he had dreamt of slicing open someone’s eye with a cutthroat razor. “There’s the film,” he said, “let’s go and make it.”
As Buñuel later explained, they compiled the script from a series of images which they took it in turns to suggest to each other. There was only one rule:
...No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted. We had to open all doors to the irrational and keep only those images that surprised us, without trying to explain why.
When one of them made a suggestion, the other had three seconds in which to say “yes” or “no” to the proposal. This was how Buñuel and Dali wrote Un Chien Andalou (1929). Their intention had been to shock and offend, but rather than offending the public, Un Chien Andalou became an notorious success, which left Buñuel feeling ambivalent over his new found fame:
What can I do about the people who adore all that is new, even when it goes against their deepest convictions, or about the insincere, corrupt press, and the inane herd that saw beauty or poetry in something which was basically no more than a desperate impassioned call for murder
The most infamous image in cinema history?
The film had been paid for by Buñuel’s mother, but their next movie L’Âge d’Or (1930) was commissioned by the arts patrons Marie-Laurie and Charles de Noailles. This time their film achieved notoriety after Dali declared it was an attack on the Catholic church. When screened in Paris, the film caused a riot and was banned for 50 years.
After this, Buñuel distanced himself from Surrealism and became a Communist—a decision that ended his friendship Dali and led the painter to damage Buñuel’s reputation in America by denouncing him as an atheist.
Dali’s portrait of Buñuel from 1924.
It would take until the late 1940s for Buñuel to re-establish his career as a film director when he started making B-movies in Mexico. In 1950, he co-wrote and directed Los olvidados (The Young & The Damned) for which he Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951.
In 1960, Buñuel wrote “A Statement” on filmmaking for the magazine Film Culture in which explained his views on cinema:
The screen is a dangerous and wonderful instrument, if a free spirit uses it. It is the superior way of expressing the world of dreams, emotions and instinct. The cinema seems to have been invented for the expression of the subconscious, so profoundly is it rooted in poetry. Nevertheless, it almost never pursues these ends.
We rarely see good cinema in the mammoth productions, or in the works that have received the praise of critics and audience. The particular story, the private drama of an individual, cannot interest—I believe—anyone worthy of living in our time.
If a man in the audience shares the joys and sorrows of a character on the screen, it should be because that character reflects the joys and sorrows of all society and so the personal feelings of that man in the audience. Unemployment, insecurity, the fear of war, social injustice, etc., affect all men of our time, and thus, they also affect the individual spectator.
But when the screen tells me that Mr. X is not happy at home and finds amusement with a girl-friend whom he finally abandons to reunite himself with his faithful wife, I find it all very moral and edifying, but it leaves me completely indifferent.
Octavio Paz has said: “But that a man in chains should shut his eyes, the world would explode.” And I could say: But that the white eye-lid of the screen reflect its proper light, the Universe would go up in flames. But for the moment we can sleep in peace: the light of the cinema is conveniently dosified and shackled.
A late starter, age did not diminish Buñuel’s talent as a filmmaker and his most successful movies were made when he was in his sixties and seventies—The Exterminating Angel, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and That Obscure Object of Desire.
Buñuel said he was “An atheist—thank God,”—a line (allegedly) pinched by Kurt Vonnegut, and the only thing he equated with religious passion was his favorite drink a martini. In his autobiography, My Last Breath, Buñuel offered his recipe for the definitive martini:
To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini. To be frank, given the primordial role in my life played by the dry martini, I think I really ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen “like a ray of sunlight through a window-leaving it unbroken.”
Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won’t melt, since nothing’s worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients-glasses, gin, and shaker-in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Stir it, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, stir it again, and serve.
(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)
In 1984, a year after his death, the BBC produced a documentary on The Life and Times of Don Luis Buñuel, which covered his life from eye-ball slicing to his plans for deathbed pranks to be played on his family and friends.
These almost unbelievably realistic sculptures of Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Abraham Lincoln are imbued with a downright menacing level of detail. The extremely uncanny likenesses created by former Hollywood special effects makeup artist, Kazuhiro Tsuji are designed to bring about an intense intimacy not available in reality.
Here’s an excerpt from Tsuji’s 2015 artist statement on his website:
Face to face, viewers approach the giant heads, which are two times life size. The stillness and detail allow for close examination of each pore with a level of scrutiny not even permitted to lovers. The sculptures permit an impossibly close, shared moment with the celebrated.
Tsuji, a Kyoto, Japan native, worked with director Akira Kurosawa in the production of Rhapsody in August and on a variety of Hollywood films after founding one of the first companies of its kind in Japan called Makeup and Effects Unlimited. Since 2008, Tsuji has devoted himself entirely to sculpture and his work has been exhibited widely.
Take a look at some of the artist’s absolute masterpieces below. I think the photos of these sculptures speak for themselves. And what I mean by that is that they really do look like they almost could…actually…speak…for themselves.
Below the images, you’ll find a brief interview hosted by Aline Pimentel with Tsuji inside his Burbank, California studio. In it, Tsuji says that each sculpture takes him three to four months, and that he works up to sixteen hours a day.
You can read more about the incredible, SELF TAUGHT artist on his website.
San Antonio-based artist and hair stylist Roberto Perez AKA Rob The Original creates these pretty nutty haircuts with the scalp as a blank canvas and a photo of the subject to work off of for reference.
A lot of Rob’s subjects crafted on heads are of pop stars, sports stars and reality TV dum-dums (none of which I care about). I did, however, find of few of his works I really dig like Salvador Dalí, Bruce Lee, Cesar Chavez and a few others. I’d imagine the two dudes who got the Cheech & Chong hairdos would always have to stand together though, because it would be rather confusing to onlookers if they were separated with just a Tommy Chong on the one head. Where’s Cheech, dammit?!
I would also like to see these haircuts after two weeks of hair regrowth. Do they all turn into the Wolfman? I mean Tupac as the Wolfman would be kinda of hilarious and inexplicable to sport on yer head, no? You’d still have a lot of explaining to do.
You may not have heard of Edward James, but you will certainly recognise the back of his head from the painting Not to be Reproduced by René Magritte. This was one of two portraits the Surrealist artist did of James, the other was The Pleasure Principle.
Edward William Frank James (1907–1984) was a poet and a patron of the arts, who used his vast wealth to publish writers (like poet John Betjeman), commission theatrical productions most notably Les Ballets and Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s last work together The Seven Deadly Sins in 1933. He also supported individuals, communities in Mexico and financed artisan workshops, but James is most famously known for his patronage of Surrealist art, in particular the artists Magritte, Leonora Carrington and Salvador Dalí. He also bought works by Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Klee, Pavel Tchelitchew, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Max Ernst and Paul Delvaux.
Being rich and aristocratic usually meant James was described as a great “English eccentric,” though he was never fond of the term claiming he was like “the boy with green hair,” just born that way. According to James he was the illegitimate son of King Edward VII, which may have indeed been possible as his mother was said to have been one of the royal’s many mistresses. When he was five, his father (or at least his mother’s husband) died leaving James the sole heir to his fortune and the 8,000 acre family estate of West Dean House in Sussex. James eventually gave away the family estate, financing its reuse as a college. He created his own Surrealist home in Monkton, and then in Las Pozas, Mexico, where he used his money to support its community employing villagers to build houses, a hotel, Surrealist sculptures and architectural follies.
This delightful film The Secret Life of Edward James made in 1978 was narrated by the late jazz singer, art critic and writer George Melly. James and Melly were good friends, united by their passion for Surrealism. Melly was a wonderfully outrageous and much loved performer whose exuberance for life was often matched by his attire. He also wrote three highly entertaining volumes of autobiography and released a whole bag of recordings. If you haven’t heard of George Melly he is worth investigating.
Magritte’s other portrait of Edward James ‘The Pleasure Principle’ (1937).
Born Isabelle Collin Dufresne on September 6th 1935, but later but rechristened by Andy Warhol, Ultra Violet passed away Saturday after a long battle with cancer. She was brought up in a strictly religious upper-middle-class family, but she rebelled at an early age, and was supposedly exorcised at the insistence of her parents. Isabelle studied art in France and then ran to New York to live with her older sister.
After meeting Salvador Dali in the early 1950s she became his assistant, pupil and muse. Ten years later Dali introduced Isabelle to Andy Warhol and things would never the same.
When she was asked once for a short autobiography, she wrote this:
1935 - I was born a mystical child.
1940 - I was raised in France at the Sacred Heart Catholic convent where I became rebellious.
1950 - I was exorcised at age 15.
1951 - I was sent to a correction home at the age of 16.
1968 - I burned my bra as a sign of rebellion.
1972 - I questioned the masculinity imbued in religion and scriptures.
1998 - I had absorbed and accepted the gender differences.
Present - I believe Jesus Christ to be the Messiah and the Savior of the world.
At Warhol’s suggestion she changed her name to Ultra Violet as her hair was violet colored much of the time. Ultra Violet was one of Andy’s early Superstars and appeared in several of his underground films including I, a Man, The Life of Juanita Castro and Fuck aka ****. She was also in quite a few really good, weird, but more “above ground” exploitation or B films including The Telephone Book, Midnight Cowboy, Simon, King of the Witches, The Phynx, Cleopatra, Savages and Curse of the Headless Horseman.
Amazingly, you can watch The Life of Juanita Castro in its entirety via YouTube:
Ultra Violet narrated a very controversial “lost” film called Hot Parts, a compilation of hardcore porn scenes from vintage smokers and loops dating as far back as the turn of the century. It even had a soundtrack album released available here. The film was allowed to play as the police rushed in and busted it at its initial showing at the First Annual New York Erotic Film Festival. Still being talked about three years after the incident, this is from an article in Man to Man magazine from 1974:
Not too long after this, Ultra Violet made an LP for Capital Records. It was not promoted and had little to no publicity. Every known copy has a cut out hole, meaning it went directly to sale record bins, and usually sold for 99 cents. Today it sells on eBay for up to $5,200! Some tracks are actually pretty good. Ultra Violet really sounds like her friend Yoko Ono on this track, “Cool Mac Daddy.” The entire album is available on iTunes.
In 1973, a near-death experience launched Ultra Violet on a spiritual quest, culminating in her baptism in 1981, bringing her full circle back to her upbringing. From 1981 until her death, she was a practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Oddly enough one year before this Ultra Violet did her own version of The Last Supper.
“The Last Supper,” a performance and film—a re-enactment of the Last Supper—was conceived for the Kitchen by Ultra Violet in 1972 and performed by New York-based female artists. Recently it was shown at a Miami Beach Cinematheque screening for Art Basel in 2007 and is included in the collection of Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Ultra Violet never showed her work until much later in life when she devoted herself to her art and mounted celebrated shows the world over. She was also the author of the books, Famous for 15 minutes, Ultra Violet: Andy Warhol, Superstar and Ultra Violet: L’Ultratique. Her first book, Famous for 15 Minutes was made into an opera called Famous! with music by David Conte and a libretto by John Stirling Walker. That is something I’d really like to see. There’s a website with some video here.
Here’s a pretty in depth interview with Ultra Violet: